Friday, August 8, 2014

Deadline for Millinery Competition Drawing Near; Burning Millinery Feathers; Preparing for a Competition I'll be Entering

By this time many of you are either excited about the Hatstruck millinery competition here, or you will be glad when it's over so that I can get on with discussing hat making.  Well I'm in both camps.  This post is written for three purposes:  (1) a reminder that the competition will be ending in a few days; (2) to share a few tips on burning feathers to use as millinery trim or for other purposes; and (3) to discuss what I will be doing for the next couple of weeks as I prepare for the competition I will be entering into--the Mad Hatters Society competition on FaceBook.
The Hatstruck Millinery Competition--Elegant, Fun Couture Hats, 2014

I have gotten messages from some of you stating that you will be entering the contest in the last hour.  I understand that because that is exactly what I do when I enter contests.  However, since one of the requirements for entering this contest is that you be a follower of this blog (you may unfollow it after the competition is over), it is important that you complete this process so that I may approve your entry for judging.  Please, I do not want to disqualify anyone.  There will be no exceptions.  Also, I need to be able to identify you if you are under a screen name other than your given name, so please make sure that you let me know who you are.  For competition rules and regulations, please visit the two linked 
locations in this sentence.

Please Note!!!

In order to obtain a higher score in the competition, don't forget to show the inside of your hat, etc; remember that the competition has a theme; review the winning categories to get an idea of what is needed to do well in the contest (presentation, theme appropriateness, workmanship, etc.).  Good luck!

The Competition that I'll be Entering

Yes I'm entering another competition.  You've heard it before--competitions force me to make hats; plus, they force me to design and make something other than what I would normally make.  Although I will be (or plan to) make three hats, I will only concentrate on one hat, the other two will be ordinary, boring hats.  So, for my extraordinary (in my head) hat I've gathered beads, silks, and velvet, and burned some feathers.  Many times I don't even use the materials I purchase for a competition, but this time I will, I must; at least a tenth of them.  I really should start selling some of these hats to recuperate some of my money.

Anyway, the theme for the Hatters competition has something to do with a mad hatter. So I'm using one of my candle holders--shown in the image above--to block my top hat form over.  Usually I pin and nail into my bowls, candle holders, etc. (not my hat blocks!), if I can, but this time I will not be doing so because I like the holder and I don't want to destroy it.

Well, I've draped some bias strips onto the holder using my favorite millinery material, buckram.  Buckram is perfect for this shape because it sticks to itself, therefore I don't have to secure the buckram to my alternative, makeshift hat block.  The resulting form does not have to be perfect because it will be mulled (padded/covered) with another material to smooth it out in order to ready the form for its final outer cover material.  So, why didn't I create a perfect flat pattern?  Because I'm lazy, and when you know how to, you don't have to....

Anyway, the form is drying now, and when it has dried I will remove it from the candle holder, wire it, and mull it, etc.  I'll share those images with you as I proceed.  In the background of the image you'll see the feathers I burned, plus a few other feathers I may use on my EXTRAORDINARY design.  Because it's a top hat and it has been around for at least a couple of centuries, worn by men and women, I don't see how I could improve very much over many of the beautiful ones I've seen over the years.  Plus I figured since I'm always writing about couture hats, I should at least make one every once in a while.   I must also note that I didn't have to make a top hat to satisfy the theme for the competition; I could have gone another route--not so literal, abstract.  I just wanted to make a top hat.  Speaking of feathers, I thought I would share a few tips on how I improved the appearance and texture of my burnt feathers.  I should mention here that, although I have a sketch and a general idea of what I will be making, I can't guarantee you that any of these feathers or jewels will be on the hat,; we'll see.

A Few Tips on Burning Feathers for Millinery Trim 

Okay, by now some of you are familiar with the term feather burning.  Simply stated, it is the removal of portions of the feather (lesser barbs) with a caustic substance; in the case of feathers burning, the caustic substance is bleach. Today the word Clorox and bleach have become synonymous, no matter its manufacturer.  Just a little note here, I pin many resources on my Pinterest board because there is more room there than it is here on the blog.  While you are doing your millinery research, feel free to visit it and to also follow me, as I update the millinery boards quite often.  Above is an image of the anatomy of a feather.  Just by viewing it you may get an idea of the portion of the feather that will burned away (I'll call the areas "the lesser barbs"--the more fragile parts of the feather).

On one of my Pinterest boards, "How Other Milliners and Hatters Do It," there is a pin on burning feather; more specifically, the direct link is here.  The tutorial came from a very good costuming site, Costumes by Lynn McMasters.  So basically I followed those instructions, but I went a little further because my feathers didn't look as professional.  After I burned my feathers, the remaining lesser barbs were stiff and some were stuck together.  So I thought that I didn't rinse them well enough.  Then I thought, after a few experiments, that not rinsing enough was not the issue.  So I hurt my little brain (thinking) trying to figure out the problem.  It came to me that when we dye or bleach hair (or bleach clothing for the purpose of removing color), we have to neutralize the bleach--stop the process of eating away at the material (causing the lesser barbs to melt together).  So in order to stop the process, I had to find out what would neutralize bleach, soda--from my research on the Web.  So for me this worked better.  After burning, rinsing, drying, steaming, and coming, the results is shown above.  The feathers at the top of the image have not been neutralized, while the feathers at the bottom have been neutralized.  Also, I found that the regular bleach is better because the non-splash type bleach is harder to rinse from the feathers because of the bleach's thickness.  Although the feathers above have a medium burn, you can leave them in the bleach longer to obtain more burn--a more wiry look.

Happy bleaching everyone!

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